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Cargo ship owners and master charged over large oil spill in Darwin Harbour

Days after the spill, a marine campaigner takes water samples from Darwin harbour for testing.

Days after the spill, a marine campaigner takes water samples from Darwin harbour for testing.

The master and owners of a cargo ship have been charged and will soon face court, following a large oil spill in Darwin Harbour two years ago.

The Northern Territory Department of Environment and Natural Resources allege that on August 19, 2016, the cargo ship Antung leaked oil into the harbour as it was leaving East Arm Wharf.

DENR director environmental operations Peter Vasel said the legal proceedings followed a complex, two-year investigation into the spill.

“In line with expert evidence no other vessel could have been responsible for the oil spill into Darwin Harbour on this particular day, and this will be laid out further in the Northern Territory Local Court,” Mr Vasel said.

The master of the ship was charged with four offences:

  • Discharging oil into coastal waters resulting in material environmental harm
  • Discharging oil into coastal waters
  • Failing to notify a discharge of oil whilst in coastal waters
  • Failing to make appropriate entry into oil record book as a result of a recordable event

The owners of Antung were charged with the first two and will face court on Monday October 1.

The DENR alleges that mangroves, intertidal mud flats and coastal zones were affected by the oil spill, which provide habitat for various marine and bird species such as turtles, mud crabs, spawning fish and the critically endangered far eastern curlew.

It also alleged the incident caused alarm among the community and users of Darwin Harbour, as the oil impacted a very large area.

Mr Vasel said the legal proceedings will send a message to other potential polluters.

Anyone with information about any pollution events should contact the NT EPA Pollution Hotline on 1800 064 567.

ABC

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